At least 30 people have been killed in the collapse of a gold mine in northeastern Afghanistan, officials say.
A police spokesman for Badakhshan Province, Sanaullah Rohani, said that at least seven people were also injured in the January 6 incident.
Kohistan district Governor Mohammad Rustam said that locals were using an excavator to search for gold near a local river when the makeshift mine collapsed.
The victims were villagers who were mining for gold illegally, according to provincial government spokesman Nik Mohammad Nazari.
"The villagers have been involved in this business for decades with no government control over them," Nazari said.
At least 50 people were reportedly on the scene at the time of the collapse and two rescue teams were dispatched to assist.
President Ashraf Ghani ordered emergency aid for the victims and told authorities to immediately assist those who may still be under the rubble.
The AFP news agency quoted a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority as saying that the families of the wounded will receive 10,000 afghanis ($133) in compensation, while those of the dead will get 50,000 afghanis ($664).
The spokesman, Hashmat Bahaduri, said defense ministry helicopters had already been dispatched to deliver cash to the families and airlift the wounded to hospitals.
Badakhshan is a remote, mountainous province bordering Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China.
Illegal mining is common in resource-rich Afghanistan.
Most of the country’s minerals remain untapped due to the conflict with the Taliban.
With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters